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The Post-Frost Garden

| 9/22/2014 1:18:00 PM

Tomatoes post-frostIt’s happened - first once, then twice this week alone: a killing frost. The weatherman was helpful on these counts, and the advance advisory let me spend the hours prior harvesting. Tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans, pumpkins, and winter & summer squash were all brought in before any damage was done to the produce themselves.

Now, root crops and hardier brassica vegetables are still holding their own, sturdy and strong.  But the other garden beds, including the empty plots where a cover crop of oats is replacing potatoes, onions, garlic, and dry beans suggest a sort of vacancy to the garden. As Ryan noted with a chuckle, “ looks a bit tidier with nothing in it!”

True, and an observation I’ve made myself at times. There is an order created by emptiness.  Instead, though, we spend the warmer months finding the winsome beauty and energetic bounty in the lush chaos of a verdant garden. The weeds, the stump sprouts, the unruly herbs, the unstoppable raspberries, the preening cleome, and the dominating squash vines, not to mention the over-achieving beans and chest-high broccoli.

The mint continues to hold its ground, and the raspberries can’t believe they’ll have to be pruned. Still, things are changing. The clover is no longer growing by the hour, and the weeds, ever pushy and persistent in over-extending their reach are, nonetheless, slowly settling into contented retirement around the edges I’ve worked to maintain. Paths and contours are re-defined, beginnings and endings are readily visible. “Crazy” isn’t the first word called to mind by a glance out the window.  

The squash vines are now crumpled and condensed within the wooden confines of our kitchen compost bin, though they still, somehow, spill beyond its borders, but without the authoritative vigor of the summer. Walkways are now serving their purpose, and the days of jumping plants that had grown too big for their beds are behind us. Until next year.The post-frost garden

Which is already in sight, despite the fact that this very season is not yet concluded.  But the weeding, cover cropping, and applying of compost during these weeks are what unites the present with the approaching future. No season exists distinct from its predecessors, and the health of future vegetable generations depend on the care given to the garden at the conclusion of each preceding season. As summer officially transitions to fall, and all too quickly into winter, the fate of past, present, and future gardens continue to be woven together in a tangle of weeds, compost, and exceedingly delicious harvests.

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